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Amateur music is “alive and well”

Sep 05, 2016

For the fourth year, the Forever Young music competition is hotting up. Every Thursday evening, in the 100-seater theatre at CityVarsity in Roeland Street, soloists and bands take to the stage before a panel of judges and an enthusiastic audience.

From folk to rock ‘n roll, electronic music, gospel to opera, anything goes. The only criteria are that performers are strictly amateurs and over 40 years of age. The Forever Young music competition is not only about celebrating the musician in everyone, but also about providing practical experience for the CityVarsity students – everything from sound technicians, video recording, photography to handling the website and social media.

Organiser Frank Resnik says in years gone by there were dozens of venues in central Cape Town where amateur musicians performed, but now there are only a handful of places. “Cover charges are high, or else the food and drink costs a fortune, and the musicians tend not to be as approachable,” he says. Some venues, like Stardust in Woodstock, are springboards for young singers and musicians hoping to make a break into the industry.

“When people are younger – at school or studying – it’s easy to find people who play instruments and sing. But this changes. One of the great things is that we have seen people take part from previous years, and where they were solo artists, they have now teamed with other people they’ve met here to form groups.”

The competition is well sponsored with prizes worth R40 000, including instruments from Paul Bothner, Shure microphones, JVL speakers, CityVarsity and vouchers from The Entertainers. The judges include booking agent Marian Sher, Rod Muller from Fine Music Radio, Roy Kassel from the Fancy Galada Band, and Neil Leachman, head of the CityVarsity sound engineering department.

“The aim is to be supportive, so the judges don’t tell people not to give up their day jobs – that’s not the point,” says Resnik. “This isn’t Idols. The competition doesn’t aim to change people’s lives. It could do, but I’d be very surprised.” The event is also a fundraiser for the Nonceba Family Centre in Khayelitsha, with a percentage of the takings going towards the work they do. There’s also a box at each performance for donating clothing and other goods.

The competition runs weekly until the end of October, culminating in an awards evening at Marika’s Restaurant in Gardens. For more information, see

Last modified on Monday, 05 September 2016 13:05
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CityLife is the newspaper for people who live, work and play in the Cape Town central city area – and our many visitors. It’s a blend of news and information about people and places in one of the most exciting cities in the world.

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